Total number of reported cases exceeds 20 million
A man with his bicycle on a street in New Delhi’s old quarters on April 19, 2021, as India’s capital imposes a week-long lockdown from tonight, officials said, as the megalopolis struggles to contain a huge increase in Covid-19 cases where hospitals are running out of beds and oxygen supplies are low.
Sajjad Hussain | AFP | Getty Images
India went through 20 million reported cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday.
There were 357,229 new cases reported in a 24-hour period, bringing the total to 20.28 million, according to data from the Department of Health.
The first cases in India were detected at the end of January last year and the country’s total only crossed 10 million infections in December, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But the next 10 million cases were reported in just under five months, mostly in April.
So far, at least 222,408 people have died from the disease, but that number is likely lower than the actual number of deaths. Media reports suggest that crematoriums and cemeteries are overwhelmed with body of those who died from Covid-19.
“The pandemic has now entered small towns and villages, and we are now very concerned about the extent of the havoc it will cause in areas where health systems are not sufficiently developed to provide support, so that even some of the big subways are grappling with the number of cases in hospitals, ”K. Srinath Reddy, chairman of the Public Health Foundation of India told CNBC.Connection to capital” Monday.
During the first wave of last year, India imposed a strict national lockdown between late March and May, which derailed the country’s growth trajectory and left millions of people without a source of income.
While the central government appears reluctant to impose a second nationwide lockdown, several states have stepped up restrictions in recent weeks, including local lockdowns and curfews. This includes Maharashtra which is the worst affected state in India, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and others.
Some health experts suggested that India needs a national stay-at-home order and a medical emergency declaration to meet current health care needs.
India’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the surge in cases as it faces a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supplies and drugs to treat patients.
Reddy of the Public Health Foundation told CNBC that India needs a two-pronged approach to tackle the second wave. First, efforts to immunize over 1.3 billion people must continue.
India faces at least a short-term vaccine shortage and just over 2% of the population has received both doses. From May, India opens vaccination to anyone aged 18 and over.
Second, India needs a “very strong” containment strategy to reduce the spread.
“What we need to do immediately is reduce person-to-person transmission, ensuring that there are no large crowds,” Reddy said, adding that India should not allow more than four people congregating in public places and areas with positivity rates should be put into full containment mode.
He added that India must ensure adequate social support for people recovering at home from milder symptoms.
India’s second wave began sometime in February when cases started to rise again. Before that, the country was reporting around 10,000 infections per day, on average. April was marked by a steep rise in the curve, with nearly 7 million cases reported.
The Indian government has come under fire for letting large crowds gather for religious festivals and election rallies earlier this year. These mass gatherings probably turned into super-broadcaster events.
Scientists say the spike in cases is also partially due to variants of the coronavirus circulating in India at present. This includes a local variant called B.1.617 which has several sublines with slightly different characteristic mutations.
Reddy explained that in its desire to get the economy back on track, India has ignored the looming threat of a second wave.
“I think in early January, when the daily case count counts, the daily death toll and test positivity rates plummeted, the widespread impression spread that we had ended the pandemic forever.” , he said, adding: “We had turned our backs on the virus, but the virus did not turn its back on us. And now we are paying the price.”